A user just posted a Minecraft crash dump without context. What useful information should I be looking for if I wanted to even attempt to help them out?
A Minecraft crash dump contains a lot more information than people give them credit for. You have to dig for the information, sure, so providing something other than just a crash dump is very helpful, but you can often find out a lot of what you need to know from just the crash dump.
The section we're interested in is the "System Details" section. Let's ignore pretty much everything else for now; most of the time, all you need to know is here. This section contains the following bits of information:
- Minecraft Version
- Operating System
- Java Version
- How much memory Minecraft was allocated
- Versions of Forge, FML, and MCP (if applicable)
- Number of mods loaded
- Full list of mods
- In the case of crash upon mod loading, which mods errored
- Graphics card and OpenGL version
You get the idea.
Keep in mind, though, there is a difference between a crash dump and a few lines from the console after it crashed. A crash dump often contains the information needed to fix what went wrong, a few lines from the console is rarely, if ever, enough information to know what's going on.
A crash dump doesn't tell us everything though: It usually isn't completely indicative of when the error occurred (on launch, on world load), and usually doesn't tell us if it's a problem that's specific to one world. It doesn't tell us what the user has tried to do to fix it.
So what's the point?
The point is, if a user has posted a crash dump, asking for a full list of mods is redundant. Asking what version they are using is, also, redundant. This information already exists in the question. It's not in the absolute most convenient format at the moment, sure, but the information is there. If you really want to gather new information, ask them when the error occurred (on game load or on world load), or ask them if they added one mod in particular that might be the cause of new crashes.
Conversely, if you're an asker, and someone asks you for a full mod list, this list can be found in your crash dump. So if you have only a handful of mods, it might be helpful to create a bulleted list of mods including version numbers. Formatting goes a long way when people judge technical issues questions.